Former National Football League wide-receiver Percy Harvin discussed his struggles to cope with an anxiety disorder he was diagnosed with, during an interview with Master Tesfatsion on Bleacher Report’s: Untold Stories that released on the media brand’s website Tuesday morning. During the interview, Percy discusses the disorder and the challenges he faced as a result, including self-medicating with marijuana throughout his career and a physical-altercation with a teammate prior to Super Bowl XLVIII in New York.
“There’s not a game…There’s not a game I played in that I wasn’t high,” Harvin told Tesfatsion at the beginning of the interview.
When asked about his trade from the Minnesota Vikings to the Seattle Seahawks, Harvin stated that those were, “The worst years of my life,” while also adding, “My anxiety is at its worst when I go into unfamiliar situations.”
Percy mentioned that after being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, he still failed to acknowledge the problem. However, that all changed during his introductory press conference with Seattle. The 2009 NFL Rookie of the Year said that he realized his problem was serious when he began sweating through his shirt while answering questions on the podium, and that the team kept bringing him bottles of water.
When asked about his solution to cope with the anxiety, Harvin mentioned that despite being on seven prescriptions including the anxiety-drug Zoloft, “The only thing that really seemed to work, is when I would smoke marijuana.”
The former first-round draft pick mentioned that he wants the world to know that marijuana use is a natural way for people to deal with deficiencies or to enjoy themselves, and that he believes the drug shouldn’t be labeled with a negative stigma.
Percy claims the peak of his anxiety condition came to a head during a practice prior to the Super Bowl in New York, when the Seahawks were preparing to place against quarterback legend Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. He had sat out the previous game with a concussion, and was offended when fellow wide-receiver Golden Tate dismissed questions about Harvin’s return to the lineup as irrelevant because the team made it to the Super Bowl without the receiver, mentioning that either way the team would be fine.
Tesfatsion asked Harvin about the truth of the incident, while claiming he had sources who witnessed the receiver punch Tate “into” a laundry basket. Clearing the air, Percy confirmed the fight and mentioned he gave his teammates a black eye while saying, “Let’s just say we..we.we.we locked up, umm, the owners had to come in the locker room, and the fact of hitting him into the trash can and all that type stuff, it was true. It was bad.”
Harvin went on to mention that Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch acted as a peacemaker the day of the Super Bowl, and that the running back state head coach Pete Carroll wanted the parties to apologize and squash their beef so that the team could move on for the sake of the Seahawks’ championship aspirations.
The receiver mentioned that he takes 100% responsibility for his actions and the situation was his fault, and apologized to fellow receivers Tate and Doug Baldwin.
Taking a step back, it seems that Harvin was happy to air his dirty laundry during the interview. It’s possible that a weight was lifted off his shoulders as he confessed and apologized for his past mistakes, which can be evidenced by the smile on the receiver’s face throughout the interview. Percy was an incredible talent who competed in the modern-day NFL, and his admissions certainly bring to light the league’s policies regarding mental-health issues. Despite being on numerous medications, the former receiver still suffered physical and mental anguish where he felt using a recreational drug to self-medicate was the only way to cope with his condition.
Harvin isn’t the first player to admit he smoked marijuana during his career, as All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson recently told Sports Illustrated he smoked regularly during his career to deal with football-related pain. The issue is likely to be a major topic of discussion, and definitely needs to be addressed when the NFL and Player Union’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires after the 2020 season.
Header Photo Credit: USA Today